Breath Song

Sumakshi Singh, India


Title: Breath Song
Artist: Sumakshi Singh (b. 1980, India)

Medium: Audio recordings, plexiglass, wood, 10-minute video projection, speakers

Dimensions (H x W x D): plexiglass screen measuring 152.4 x 213.4 x 20.3 cm (60 x 84 x 8 in)

Location: south Cleveland Avenue along the Squamish Estuary and Spit (summer 2014)

Created by artist Sumakshi Singh, Breath Song is a symphony of 108 breath sounds specific to and recorded in Squamish, accompanied by a video projected on a transparent screen placed in nature. The video displays words related to breath (chosen by the 108 participants) created by the condensing of their breath vapours on glass and appearing in a sequence to form a poem.

Sumakshi has been a student (and teacher) of meditation for several years. As an artist and an aspiring yogi, she has been observing and studying breath as the “gap,” the pause between words, as the vital animating force flowing through life forms, as the invisible thread weaving in and out of all beings. As the artist says, “The intimate breath exhaled by one floats freely on air currents, to be received by another, oblivious of man-made borders; a series of inhales and exhales shared all the way from New Delhi to Squamish.”

In meditation practices, breath is considered a subtle kind of border, a diaphanous veil moving between the physical and energy (astral) worlds, the thread tying the spirit to the body. Riding the wave of the physical breath (often through pranayama practices in cycles of 108 breaths) is said to eventually bring us to the borderless place within us where unity with all existence is experienced.

This artwork has inspired the artwork Biennale Snapshots – A Composition In 5 Movements by Vivian Fung.

Watch The Performance